26 January 2014

Deftones - Diamond Eyes


Sometimes an album is created out of sadness and dark times.  For the Deftones, this album was released in one of the darkest moments of their history.  When the band were working on the album 'Eros', their bass player Chi Cheng was involved in a car accident and ended up in a coma.  As a result the band placed all the work they had done on 'Eros' and started afresh with bass duties being picked up by Sergio Vega formerly of Quicksand.  Since then, unfortunately Chi Cheng has passed on and the band have stated that 'Eros' will be released at some point (they had been hoping that Chi would get better and they could release the album and tour with him); but the band still forged forward and the first fruits of their new labours was in the form of Diamond Eyes.  Now the main reason for visiting this album is that I was reading a blog on the excellent Bearded Gentlemen Music (cleverly linked here) who have been extremely supportive of this blog. They were talking about how they have been going for two years now and if they were not doing what they do, they would be two dudes in a basement arguing about what Deftones album was best.  So I have decided to have a look at their discography and will get the other guys to pick up some albums as well.

Starting with the title track, with a slow burn of sound you are then dropped into a spiral of almost shoegazing metal harmony.  The riffs of thunder and power just start this album with the sort of delivery that shows were the band was at this point.  Suffering from a lost, but still as strong as ever.  Following on is "Royal" which has the same level of epic riffage that has became the Deftones signature. The loud heavy and clear vocal dynamic is just devastating in purpose.  As an opening duo of tracks, this is one of the best that the Deftones have ever delivered.  But this is nothing compared to the next song "CMND/CTRL" which whilst not upping the ante, without increasing the speed in any real dynamic way. 

"You've Seen The Butcher" starts with a drone-esque riff that gives way to an equally devastating main section, with an almost blues/jazz level of movement.  It gives a change to the album that is welcomed as it does not have the same sort aggression that the opening numbered had (it is a trap that they sometimes fall into for me at least).  Coming next is "Beauty School" that has the light moments of shoegazing in its veins and it also has that power to bring the audience back to the fold.  I can imagine this being a stunning track live, full of passion, warfare and colours across the mind.  After this we have the crowning moment of the album "Prince"; & what a song it is!  The harmonics, the subtle bass work, the drumming and the vocals on this song is a perfect picture of the Deftones with all their strengths on full show.

Following on is "Rocket Skates" which was the lead song released from the album; at the time it was released as a free download and it is perfect for coming after "Prince".  Whilst not having the beauty and charm of the former, it is a stomping tune which goes for the jugular and is the closest to "My Own Summer (Shove It)" that the band have done; yet it is not a duplicate "My Own Summer...", it just reminiscent of it.  Perfect for following the album's strongest moment.  "Sextape" is next, and goes for the drifting moments that the band loves to add to their work at least once an album.  It is dangerously close to being a filler track, but by the time you get to the chorus it has developed into a joyfully sad moment of light and tears.  Not the most essential track they have ever done, but by no means the worse.

"Risk" is a more aggressive song which has the chunking riff back to the centre of the album.  As good as the delivery is, it could have been kept off the album and used as a bonus track for one of the singles on the album. "976-EVIL" follows on with a chorus that makes this one of the moments of the album, it is almost orchestral in delivery in places, they mix their usual sensibilities with ambitions that they sometimes fail to met; this time they are very successful.  "This Place Is Death" makes the album a darker place, you can feel the haunted nature of the work here; the person who is dragging the singer down into a personal hell.  Whilst I could understand it's inclusion on the album, I would not have notice it's absence if it had been left off the album either. Then we have "Do You Believe" which brings the metal back to the table and then has a drifting verse contrast that would not be out of place in the darker moments of indie recordings.  It is truly one of the highlights in a stellar album and comes the album's closer - "Ghosts".  Now I can see why this song ends the album, the drone nature of it dictates its place.  It is not the best moment on the album, but it is still a decent number.  Just maybe it took the album one track too far.

If you have been following the Deftones, these songs are not a real surprise; but how they were devised in such circumstances makes them more memorable.  For a long era I found that the Deftones have always been a band that release one great album and follow it with a truly dullard album of beige.  Around this time the band broke that mould and since 'Saturday Night Wrist' they have not release an album that has been less than spectacular.  For me, this is the best album that they have released; as with all Deftones albums they do not know when to leave a few tracks off, but this does not change the end result on this occasion.  Born in adversity and pain, it is a sign of how strong they are when they can release something so stunning against a backdrop of such emotions. For me, this is their best work to date.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top Track - Prince

You can purchase the album from Spotify here

You can visit the Deftones website here

If you are a Deezer user, here is a link to the album

Alternatively, here is a link to it via Spotify

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